Dietmar Busse is a German photographer who lives and works in New York City. It’s rare to encounter a body of work as wholly original as his extraordinary series, Fauna and Flora. An amalgamation of photography and painting, the pieces in the series manifest a beauty that occasionally veers into dark, dreamlike realms. Busse began painting (with photographic developer) on his prints. The resulting images so artfully meld the otherwise quite distinct media that they appear to coalesce — creating, in a sense, a new medium.
With no formal art training, Busse was long intimidated by the idea of painting. But in the last few years he began extending his experimentation even further, applying photographic retouching colors and inks to his prints.“Having a strong foundation in photography,” he says, “somehow gives me the courage to explore. The photograph serves as the foundation for the painting, capturing something about a person’s energy and spirit the way only photography can. The painting starts where photography can not go.” It is these co-mingled pieces that comprise Fauna and Flora.
“I did not set out to [focus on those concepts]. These were just the images I found myself making — and it made sense, for fauna and flora are what I grew up with, and what I relate to.” (via)
There’s nothing better than starting your morning with a nice cup of coffee and a little photograph of Robert Plant in a Speedo, playing soccer, casually, in Encino. I mean, am I right? At least, this is how I feel about Brad Elterman’s vintage paparazzi photography.
Taken when he was a teenager in the 1970s, long before roaming candids overwhelmingly lined our checkout shelves and powered ad revenue for various websites, Elterman brings a wild naivety to these specific shots that are, strangely, almost endearing. This softness might be relative to time + distance, but I don’t know. I also like to think that it’s more so reflective of the person behind the camera: a teenage youth excited to relate and investigate not just icons, but also the heart of his beloved city: Los Angeles.
For instance, the most striking aspect of Elterman’s Joan Jett portraits is not her fame nor her coolness, but instead, it’s an understanding that the photographer has with Jett’s charming desire to dwell at the Tropicana and slum amongst LA’s Rock N’ Roll finest. There’s something very optimistic and lovely about identity and everyday social performance that is examined. Scroll down after the jump to see what I mean, and while you’re there, check out a perfect shot of super casual Rod Stewart mingling after a random soccer match in Coldwater Canyon, dragging a pint of beer and chatting up some pretty dog walker. In each image, we are not wowed by hot nightclubs nor couture culture. No. We’re impressed by Los Angeles and it’s rich variety of eccentric yet absolutely charismatic artists figuring out how to be seen and be in the world as they are, at the same time.
Lauren Semivan’s black and white photography raises the dead, feels rich with ritual, and sullen from the earth. To say it is simply an abstract psychological expression would be too easy. There’s something else happening here that is magically archaic, and it’s not just the finely tailored compositions that carefully, yet seemingly casually, dig at our remains by arranging drawn fragments, bodies, vegetation, bones, and string, against a sparse backdrop. This “something else” is movement or play not just in the environment, but as or with the environment, a dreamy surreal fade that lingers.
Technically, each image is a true representation of not just what collects, but how the collection becomes. Shot with a purist sense of photography’s past, Semivan uses an early 20th century 8 x 10″ view camera and, without digital manipulation or any touch-ups at all, develops prints from a scanned large format negative. The ephemeral result, interestingly, pushes on our own anthropological or archeological impulses as a species– asking us to engage and connect with our ancestors, creatively, scientifically, and divinely.
Of her work, Semivan states, “In scientific disciplines, a line is classified as an event. Something as primitive as a scrawl on a surface reveals an aggregate of events, intersecting and changing course. Drawings made on the seamless backdrop describe an emotional space. Science is inherently experiential, as is art making. Knowing and feeling are not separate, and the whole of the environment can be used as a pedagogic instrument. Observatory elegantly draws upon a tension that exists between irrational and physical worlds. Within each image, ghosts of previous drawings.”
The series Like Everyday of Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian is powerful in its simplicity. She created the images shortly after marrying her husband, and indeed the series explores her concerns associated with being a wife as well as gender roles. In the series figures appear to be veiled in patterned cloth similar to the traditional Iranian Chador. The figure’s face, however, is obscured or replaced with a household item, often one associated with daily chores. Ghadirian says of her subjects, “My series is exactly like a mirror of my life and other women like me — my sisters, my friends, the women who live in this country.” Though the series specifically addresses Iranian women, the photographs capture more universal anxieties concerning gender roles – the anxiety that accompanies building an identity as a woman and a wife, navigating issues of power within a marriage.
Munich, Germany based Cory Stevens shoots architectural photography in a peculiar way. He abstracts the architecture by photographing a segment of a building and reflecting it in various ways. In some photos the reflection is duplicated, and in others its repeated many times as if in a kaleidoscope. All of the reflections merge seamlessly, though, as if it were one floating structure. The strange symmetry gives the buildings an almost organic quality as if it were about to divide and multiply on its own. In a way, they resemble viruses made of steel, cement, and glass.
When I first looked at Yossi Loloi’s “Full Beauty” project, I felt conflicted, and, admittedly, a little irritated. Loloi’s whole mission statement is something we, as women, are constantly being reminded of– how the media is a horrible liar, how all women’s bodies are beautiful, how the art world is sexist too, and how we need to subvert to change and love our bodies, love ourselves. Right? Right! So, how might we do this? According to Loloi, one way, is to examine unconventional imagery such as his own collection of beautiful obese women, commercially lit in relaxed settings.
Of his intention, Loloi’s website states, “I focus on their fullness and femininity, as a form of protest against discrimination set by media and by today’s society. What larger women embody to me is simply a different form of beauty. I believe we own ‘freedom of taste’ and one shouldn’t be reluctant of expressing his inclination towards it. Limiting this freedom is living in a dictatorship of esthetics.”
What Loloi says is not horrible, not terrible. It’s quick, easy, and makes perfect sense. Scroll through the photos and you will see that these women certainly are strong and brave to share bodies that, on the surface, are not generally appreciated. I love the female subjects for embracing this. In fact, the women’s bravery is the most redeeming aspect of this project.
The subject of Suren Manvelyan is so basic to photography it seems to hardly ever be captured individually. While typically considered as “windows to the soul” in art, Manvelyan’s series considers the beauty of the human eye simply as a biological structure. Eye colors are especially vivid in his images. However, it is the texture of the eye that is especially arresting. The iris seems like an alien terrain or some or some sort of cosmic object contrasting with the black void of the pupil.
During the summer of this year a small group of people struggled to preserve a public park. Quickly the scope widened, crowds grew, and the underlying anger became about something much larger than a park. The demonstrations were considered to be widely peaceful. At times, however, emotions and force erupted with violence. Photographer Barbaros Kayan was on the ground to capture the unfolding protests. There is a subtle difference about his series Occupy Taksim that distinguishes it from much of photojournalism covering the events, a certain frank grittiness. Its almost clear from the images, the photographer is familiar with the city, intimate with the battleground.